The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
Such a perfect middle school graphic novel! (I must admit I loved it, too.) The “cardboard kingdom” is a small one–approximately a neighborhood block. But this kingdom (population: 16 kids) is peopled by knights, monsters, rogues, robots, not to mention an inner demon or two. The cardboard of the title is the substance (cardboard boxes) that creates the costumes that drive the make-believe play of this imaginative kingdom. The introductory story is worlds, as we view the pectoral story of an evil Sorceress and her minion torturing a captive princess. But wait! It’s siblings creating an adventure for themselves. They are embarrassed to be discovered by their neighbor, especially the Sorceress, who we are led to infer is initially ashamed to be seen dressing up as a feminine character. With the little sister’s encouragement, the Sorceress comes back better than ever.
This is a delightful and important book, filled with stories of adventure, heroism, imagination, and joyful play. Who wouldn’t want to take these stories as inspiration to create their own cardboard costumes? As an adult reader, it brought back memories of neighborhood creative play and building forts, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the summertime together. Highly recommended!